Bhutto a symbol of democracy

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 28, 2007

Despite threats of death, I will not acquiesce to tyranny, but rather lead the fight against it.

Benazir Bhutto

Throughout history, people have died for freedom.

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And on Thursday, former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto added her name to that glorified list.

During a campaign rally in Rawalpindi, Bhutto was shot by an assassin who later detonated a bomb that killed him and 20 others. Bhuttos death sparked violence and created unrest in the nuclear-armed country.

The outrage came because Bhutto was a symbol of democracy, a woman who initiated an anti-corruption campaign and in 1993 was re-elected as prime minister. She brought electricity to the countryside and had schools built throughout the country.

She was an advocate for modernization and was progressive in moving the country forward. As the first female prime minister in the Middle East in modern history, she was an iconic figure to Pakistanis.

Her family had long been victimized by military dictatorships and terror organizations. Her death comes 28 years after her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, another former prime minister, was hanged by the military dictatorship in the same city where his daughter would die.

Benazir Bhutto was often jailed and lived much of her life exiled from Pakistan. She knew the dangers and the threats that existed when she returned earlier this year.

But she came back anyway in an effort to continue her country down the path of democracy. That decision, that courage, eventually resulted in her death, a senseless loss of one of the worlds most influential women and a bona fide pioneer for women in the Middle East.

Governments around the world are hoping the Jan. 8 elections will go on as scheduled despite the turbulence that exists. But the elections should continue not for the motives of countries around the world, but because those elections are staples of the kind of Pakistan Bhutto wanted to see.

There would be some justice for those elections to occur as a tribute to Pakistans fallen hero. They are what she lived for. They are what she died for.

People will fight for freedom. People will die for freedom.

And people like Benazir Bhutto bring integrity to that fight around the world, that fight that will always persist and never be defeated.